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HSBC's Window Act Could Hit The Road

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The success of a New York window-theater effort designed to amplify HSBC's global "Your Point of View" campaign has prompted client executives to consider taking the show on the road.

Developed by JWT and executed by Cunning, the effort centers on scenes performed by live actors in street-level windows. One depicts the crowning of a beauty queen, another the hollering of three sports fans and the third an artist painting on a canvas. White type at the bottom of each window asks observers to text-message one-word reactions to each scene. Their responses flash every few seconds on TVs mounted on the back walls of the displays.

The guerrilla theater began with a 10-day run at HSBC's New York headquarters on Fifth Avenue and spreads this week to three other New York branches. Based on initial passerby interest, an uptick in new accounts at headquarters (to 27 daily in week one, up from 11) and a steady flow of text messages, HSBC is eyeing four other U.S. cities and markets abroad. "It had a tremendous response," said Peter Stringham, group general manager of marketing at HSBC in London. "At a couple of places, we ended up blocking traffic."

The effort came eight months after HSBC kicked off its global campaign and three months after the U.S. launch, which used TV spots, print ads and a Web site designed to gather diverging opinions on broad topics. "We were always thinking of nontraditional ideas" to support the launch, said Walt Connelly, ecd at JWT in New York, who added the goal was to keep the positioning "alive in a more interesting way." Cunning co-founder Mark Voysey said: "It's one of many means to create a dialogue, which is what we're all about."